GREENWOOD – After more than 22 years, Greenwood Township Highway Commissioner Roger May is calling it quits.
May is retiring largely because of medical reasons. The 68-year-old has endured chronic problems since a fall about three years ago in which he fractured his spine and injured his right arm.
“I think it’s time,” May said. “It’s anybody’s election out there.”
Four candidates are vying to replace May in the April 7 election.
A candidate forum is being held today at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room of Greenwood School, 4618 Greenwood Road. The next highway commissioner will earn about $78,000 a year.
The candidates include Thomas Wyse, 57, who worked for May for six years. May laid off Wyse for budget reasons about two weeks ago. May is supporting another candidate, Don Goad, in the race.
“No politics were involved,” May said of the decision to let Wyse go. May said the decision was budget driven and cited increased costs for road salt. The road district budgeted about $60,000 for salt, but spent more than $118,000.
May said that although he is about $142,000 under budget on payroll expenses, $50,000 of that will be transferred to the district’s insurance fund. The district’s fiscal year ends March 31.
May said that of his full-time employees, Wyse had been with the township the least amount of time. However, May also said that Wyse’s candidacy created tension among township road employees.
“I knew there was going to be trouble because I was running for his position,” Wyse said.
Aside from working for Greenwood Township, Wyse said that in the past he worked for Curran Contracting Co. and had his own blacktop business in the early 1970s.
“I decided to run because things need to be done better,” Wyse said. “There needs to be better accountability in general. There’s a lot of rough roads.”
Goad, 56, the owner of Anderson Tree Service, did not comment on May’s decision to let Wyse go. Goad said he wanted to focus on his reasons for running and his plans for the township.
“The idea that I can use my business skills to serve and help the people of Greenwood Township really enthuses me,” Goad said.
Goad said that if he is elected, he plans to sell his business and focus on being highway commissioner. Goad said that for the past 30 years he has worked with surrounding government officials. He said those relationships would help him as road commissioner.
“The current commissioner brought the district from bare-bones to where it is now,” Goad said. “I want to build on that foundation.”
Tom Ganka, 51, also is a candidate for highway commissioner.
Ganka has been endorsed by 63rd District state Rep. Jack Franks. Ganka has worked for the Richmond Township road district for eight years.
Before that, he worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation in snowplowing and highway maintenance.
“I have a lot of experience,” Ganka said. “No one would have to train me.”
Ganka said he loves township work and that he is prepared for the position.
“I know all the ins and outs of the county,” Ganka said.
Thomas Borta is not on the ballot in the race, but he is a write-in candidate.
Borta worked for Greenwood Township about 20 years ago in road maintenance and snowplowing. More recently Borta worked for Kimball Hill Homes. Kimball filed bankruptcy, and Borta has been unemployed since early March.
Borta said that if he is elected, Raffel Road would be a priority in part because of the new high school.
“I am not a politician by any means,” he said.